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Film Review: 'Into The Storm'

Kathy Zerbib |
August 7, 2014 | 3:32 p.m. PDT

Senior Entertainment Editor

Go "Into the Storm" on August 8 (Warner Bros. Pictures).
Go "Into the Storm" on August 8 (Warner Bros. Pictures).
Sorry, "Into the Storm," we already went crazy over a tornado movie and it wasn't yours. At least "Sharknado 2," as ridiculous as it was, had jokes to help the movie along.

"Into the Storm" is a tornado disaster film shot using mostly first-person videos similar to "The Blair Witch Project" and "Paranormal Activity." Already rolling your eyes? Not surprised. Oh, and I say "mostly first-person videos" because there are several times throughout the plot when the filmmakers say, "To hell with that, hopefully no one notices," and shoot from a real camera perspective. Yeah, it's noticeable. This found-footage-like method does little to add appeal to the movie, but it certainly might make your stomach uneasy. Watch with caution.

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The movie, directed by Steven Quale, opens in Silverton - a random, uninteresting town with random, uninteresting people. Richard Armitage plays Gary Fuller, a high school vice principal and father to two sons, Donnie (Max Deacon) and Trey (Nathan Kress). Right away, we sense underlying family issues. Predictable. A band of storm-chasers roll into town in an amateur's military-like tank, led by aggressive Pete Moore (Matt Walsh) and meteorologist Allison Stone (Sarah Wayne Callies). Oh, and I spy with my adoring eyes Jeremy Sumpter, who plays one of the storm-chasers named Jacob.

As you'd expect from the character introductions, twisters start flying and the cute, little family unit is challenged. How tragic… Or not.

The characters are robbed of an audience's empathy because there is no time to connect with them. Let's all take a moment to remember that Quale directed the "Final Destination" disaster flicks. Hence, establishing a relationship between film characters and the audience does not seem in line with Quale's priorities. Too much action happens too fast (Not that we're complaining), so we aren't really on the edge of our seat and sweating for their survival. We're just staring at the disaster and "ooh"ing and "ahh"ing.

Though not intentionally meant to be comedic, there are so many laughable moments in "Into the Storm." For one - the seriousness of the characters. Everything is just oh-so-serious in this movie… We get it, you're running for your life from a bunch of mini tornados. But let's be honest, meteorologist lady Allison, you had to be joking when you said "Los Angeles is next" for a tornado disaster. Her serious face made the moment hilarious. Later, when a tornado catches fire during an intense scene, I half-expected one of the characters to stare up at it with a straight face and whisper, "Burn, Baby, burn." It would've been so perfect.

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Okay, now that the character analysis is out of the way… The best part of this movie is the effects. The sound effects are loud and intimidating, the visuals are captivating. There's something about seeing planes and big rigs being pulled up from the ground and hurled in circles in the air that just looks so darn impressive. The action is intense, and you really do feel like you're in the storm and experiencing all the insanity first-hand. It's exhilarating and heart-pounding. This is why the movie is worth a watch (It is, it really is). We'll forget the character names halfway through the ending credits, but we'll mention the tornado on fire in casual conversation for days. That's the movie's selling point and that's what's shown in the movie trailer (and for good reason, obviously). Waiting between action scenes for character storylines to finish is the hardest part, but at least it gives you a chance to get your heartbeat back down to normal.

The worst part of this movie - besides forgettable, awkward characters and an overall bland plot - is how utterly unrealistic it is. Hello, a twister just dragged up airplanes and big rigs… But a series of school buses just a few yards away from an even bigger tornado aren't swooped up? Yeah, okay. To say the least, this isn't a disaster movie you find yourself in fear of actually happening.

If it weren't for the action, this movie would be doomed. Thankfully, the effects department got it right and going "Into the Storm" turned out to be a generally thrilling experience. Let's say 6 out of 10 stars.

"Into the Storm" is rated PG-13 for language and intense destruction. The movie is out in theaters on Aug. 8. 

Watch the movie trailer below.

Reach Senior Entertainment Editor Kathy Zerbib here. Follow her on Twitter here.



 

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